Knight reaffirms England potential

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The Independent Online

It will remain Warwickshire's conviction throughout this season that to be playing Second Division cricket is an affront to their true worth, the consequence not of under-achievement (although they do not deny the charge) but of a dastardly trick pulled by Derbyshire and Hampshire in the final round of last year's Championship, when a contrived result saw that both those counties finished in the top half of the table and Warwickshire did not.

The Derby carve-up, as it will forever be known in these parts, will rankle for a long time and has probably ensured that Warwickshire begin every match this summer doubly determined to prove themselves head and shoulders above the opposition.

Perhaps it is for this reason that they batted on until five o'clock here yesterday, keeping Glamorgan flagging in the field long enough to see the new electronic scoreboard register 551 for 6 before Graeme Welch and Ashley Giles turned haughtily towards the dressing room, the clear message being that they did not intend to bat again.

Warwickshire owed their superior air largely to Nick Knight, who had evidently slept well on his 127 and returned with the same single-minded approach that had enabled him to dominate the opening day, remaining there until just before tea.

By this time, when Steve Watkin finally produced a ball to defeat a weary drive, the now pointedly diligent left-hander had extended his occupation to almost nine hours, adding just short of a hundred runs to achieve a career-best 233, including 27 fours, his first double hundred and the first scored by any Warwickshire bat since Brian Lara made one at Lord's, against Middlesex, in 1998.

Knight's previous highest had come in the same year, an essay in similarly painstaking longevity that yielded 192. That one preceded his appearance for England against South Africa in the third Test, although it was not a good omen. Out for 11 and one at Old Trafford, Knight has yet to reappear, his Test career irritatingly stuck at 12 caps.

The determination in his eyes yesterday confirmed his intention to correct this matter and Warwickshire could only nod in approval as they built their formidable total around him, Trevor Penney lending the most valuable support with 85 off 151 balls in a fourth-wicket stand of 170.

Whether Warwickshire, without the stricken Allan Donald, can now bowl Glamorgan out twice remains to be seen. Although Matthew Elliott escaped a chance to gully on 12, he and Stephen James negotiated 20 overs to the close unscathed.

England have cancelled a planned training camp ahead of the first Test against Zimbabwe to give players more match practice with their counties. Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, said the decision was made because excessive rain had meant so little cricket being played. The camp was scheduled for 11-13 May but the squad will now meet at Lord's on 15 May to prepare for the first Test which starts three days later.


Overnight: Warwickshire 252-2 (N V Knight 127 no, M J Powell 73).

Warwickshire First Innings N V Knight b Watkin 233 D L Hemp c James b Thomas 32 T L Penney b Watkin 85 N M K Smith c Watkin b Croft 31 G Welch not out 35 A F Giles not out 4 Extras b3 lb21 w2 nb8 34 Total 6 wkts dec (150 overs) 551

Fall: 1-172 2-242 3-290 4-460 5-489 6-517 Did Not Bat: K J Piper, A Richardson, E S H Giddins.

Score at 120 overs: 3-411

Bowling Watkin 35 7 97 3 Thomas 30 4 119 1 Jones 28 1 106 1 Dale 13 1 56 0 Croft 41 11 136 1 Elliott 3 0 13 0 Close

Glamorgan First Innings M T G Elliott not out 37 S P James not out 15 Extras lb4 nb8 12 Total 0 wkts (20 overs) 64

To Bat: A Dale, M P Maynard, M J Powell, W L Law, A D Shaw, R D B Croft, S D Thomas, S P Jones, S L Watkin.

Bonus Pts: Warwickshire 5 Glamorgan 1

Bowling Giddins 5 0 27 0 Richardson 7 2 16 0 Giles 5 4 2 0 Welch 3 0 15 0

Umpires: V A Holder and K E Palmer